Franz Kiwisch Ritter von Rotterau
Biography of Franz Kiwisch Ritter von Rotterau
Franz Kiwisch Ritter von Rotterau was the founder of modern German gynaecology, and in his time the foremost teacher of obstetrics and gynaecology.
Von Kiwisch studied in Prague, graduating doctor of medicine there in 1837. He then undertook a journey through Germany and Denmark, and the same year became doctor of surgery and magister of obstetrics. In 1838 he became an assistant at the obstetrical clinic in Prague. He remained in this position for two years, before travelling in Germany, France, England and Denmark in the company of Franz von Pitha (1810-1875). In 1841, after his return, he entered the Health department of the Bohemian Landesguberniums, serving there for one and a half year. In 1842 he became Kreisarzt (district medical officer) in Bydzow, a few months later in Beraun. As this district had its main office in Prague, Kiwisch was able to maintain contact with the university.
In 1842 Kiwisch became Dozent of gynaecology and at the same time was made head of the newly established department for women’s diseases. He worked there for three years, a highly appreciated teacher visited by students from his own country and abroad. In 1845, following the death of Josef Servas von d’Outrepont (1774-1845), he received a call form Würzburg as ordinarius of obstetrics and gynaecology, soon gaining the love and respects of his new students and colleagues. His reputation as an eminent women’s doctor attracted a large number of female patients. He found a special benefactor in the Grand Princess Helen of Russia who invited him to come to St. Petersburg, an invitation he rejected.
Fatal events in his family in the years 1848 and 1849 affected him so badly, both mentally and physically, that he appeared a morally and bodily broken man. Following Anton Johann Ritter von Jungmann’s (1775-1854) retirement in 1850 he was appointed professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Prague, but was unable to serve in this position for long. He fell ill with tuberculous disease of the lungs and the spinal column, and in 1852 succumbed, aged only 37 years.
Von Kiwisch was an epoch-making innovator in German obstetrics, parting with the natural philosophical attitudes, originating with Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling’s (1775-1854) philosophy, that had dominated medicine.
His Klinische Vorträge was the first scientific German work on gynaecology, and for many years remainied the only one of its kind.